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Posts Tagged ‘california food events’

{Borrowed post from USA TODAY}

So we know dark chocolate is good for us because it has antioxidants and lamb is the new pork which was the new chicken.  Or was it beef?

But a walk through the 206,000 square feet of exhibits at this year’s Winter Fancy Food Show is a glimpse into the possible future of your grocery cart or dinner table. At this year’s show, which ended Tuesday, 17,000 attendees visited 1,300 booths to see the future of specialty food. From the aisles, here are 12 food trends for 2012:

1. Salt

Forget Morton. If it’s not Himalayan or Northwest Indian Salish-inspired, alder-smoked, it’s so 20th century. Salt’s in chocolate, on caramels, and sailing off store shelves. It’s the finishing touch to multiple dishes. At the SaltWorks in Woodinville, Wash., they sell Black Hawaiian sea salt, Bolivian Rose salt, Merlot-infused crystals and Yakima apple wood smoked sea salt. “We’ve started refining our own salt from Pacific Oceanwater at our plant near Seattle,” says the company’s Megan O’Keefe.

Salt has really gotten big in the past two years, says Ron Tanner, with the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, which puts on the show. “We just did a salt and pepper tasting for our members,” he says. These specialty salts can run up to $8 per ounce, or $128 per pound. “Though it seems expensive, in the long run it’s not that much. You might get ten uses out of that package, so the cost per use isn’t high. And it’s a great finish to a dish.”

2. Artisan chocolate

Small producers who carefully source their cocoa beans are turning out chocolate bars that can cost as much as a mega-bag of M&M’s, but taste a lot better. These bars are often all-natural and cater to grown-up tastes. Think lemongrass, lavender-blueberry or French toast.

Standing at Poco Dolce Confections, Italian for “a little sweet,” Adam Smith points to owner Kathy Wiley’s olive oil with sea salt chocolate. “It hits just the right notes.” His Fog City News, a small San Francisco shop that sells hundreds of specialty chocolate bars, does a booming business in flavors such as Mayan chili.

The trend isn’t just in San Francisco. There are local chocolates made “in pretty much every city in the United States,” says Tanner. “People love chocolate and it’s not that hard to start producing them.”

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